Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Final Lesson of the Semester

Today was our last riding class of the semester. We jumped today because we played games on the flat on Monday. I rode a chestnut gelding named Red. He was a good-looking guy with very sweet eyes, and he was a nice guy under saddle. He needed quite a bit of training to help him fix a...problem, but he was well-behaved.
His big issue was traveling in a straight line. He brought his head to the rail and canted himself with his hindquarters to the inside. He traveled sort of laterally for the entire lesson, which obviously didn't make jumping him very easy. It also made driving him into the corners ridiculously difficult, as well as steering him against the rail and avoiding jump standards that were a horse-width away from the rail. He was a little slow, so I tried to get a crop from Teresa.
I think Red was mistreated by a past owner. When I reached over to the announcer's stand to grab a crop, he spun away. Teresa ultimately had to lure him over with a candy wrapper and then hold him by the bridle as she passed me the crop. Even then, it scared him, and he nearly ran out from under me when I touched it to his side. Less than five minutes after our struggle, I clumsily dropped the crop. I survived without it, though, because I most certainly wasn't getting off to get it or struggling to have someone pass it to me again.
We worked on the flat for a while. Red's peculiar way of moving wasn't pleasant, but he would slam my leg into the wall each time I forced him to move in a straight line. I like my legs. I don't like it when horses crush them.
Jumping Red was also quite interesting. Of course he approached the jumps kind of funny because he wanted to go sideways, but it was a lot better than when he was on the flat. We did a whole course of five jumps today. It involved lots of interesting twists and turns, which was a challenge on Red. We had fun (and a few laughs), and I didn't fall off :)
I felt like I was going to fall off once, and everyone thought I was another time. The first time, Red threw his head down right before he jumped. I thought he was going to stop and was late getting into my two-point when I realized that he was actually going to take it. I think I compensated by throwing myself forward to keep up with him, and I lost my balance on the landing. I would've been perfectly fine on just about any other horse, but Red's lateral cantering kept me off-balance. I fixed it after a few strides, even though he turned on the landing and I wasn't sure about what was going to happen.
The second time felt pretty epic. I took a sharp turn into a line. I felt that Red was off-balance, but I continued approaching the jump anyway. I got the feeling that "something" was going to happen, and then we went over the tallest of the jumps. I don't know what happened, but everything fell out of place. I felt myself sitting on the cantle and then possibly behind the saddle, and both of my feet were out of the stirrups as we went over, and I had to halt a very surprised Red before he took the second jump in the line with such an awkward passenger. While everything was going on, I heard a few surprised "oh's" and "ah's" from my audience. Teresa immediately called out to me about my hip, but I assured her that I hadn't hurt myself. I was actually surprised that I was able to continue jumping (and I'm even more surprised that I'm still not hurting). I think I just scared everyone with my typical "something's going wrong" squeak. Whenever some unexpected movement jolts me, I usually make a little "ooh" or "eek" noise. I've also never fallen off without making a similar noise. Maybe it's just one of my many quirks.
I restarted the line and we took it well. It was really nice. We did the course one more time after that, and then the lesson was over. Everyone went back to the barn to untack their horses, and then we gave each horse in the barn a treat. I gave pieces of candy canes to Red, Jasmine, and Bugsy. I'm going to miss them all over the summer.
Aw, now I won't get to ride until next Friday at least.
I'm staying at school this weekend so that I can study for exams and so that I can go to the computer science department's picnic. I'm going to miss Tellaphone, but I'll get to see her soon enough--and then we'll be back together again for the whole summer.

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